[2016-01-21] RPG Review of Darkly Through the Labyrinth

[Pre-Release Review PDF]

The first thing to note is the stunning visual artwork on the cover and throughout. Next is the layout which is impeccable and fits the feel of the game perfectly. It's easy to read and a pleasure on the eyes.

Me, I'm not big into reading PDFs, so I printed this out for the review.

The small book includes a table of contents, a lovely index, and a character sheet. What's missing is a sample adventure but perhaps a quickstart/convention style booklet would do wonders at some point.

The meat of the book is separated into four chapters.

Game Mastering


The intro is actually a little better than the average fare noting how playing may be more complicated than acting in some ways.

It goes on to explain how, while you are all FBI agents, you will each have unique methods and abilities.

As for rules, it emphasizes that while it's collaborative storytelling, it's a game covered by rules. It let's you know that the standard 6 polyhedrons are used.

Actions are adjudicated by rolling two dice, the character's Method Die and the Difficulty Die. If the Method Die meets or exceeds the Difficulty Die, it's a success. The better you are at something, the larger the die you use. The harder the task, the larger the die used for difficulty.

What's interesting is that the player rolls both dice, not the GM. The GM only assigns the die for difficulty.

Then there is more on the setting, atmosphere, background, presentation, and a disclaimer that this game is for mature audiences. Each of these is a worthwhile read for novice and experienced gamers alike.


While I'm probably in the minority here, I would prefer the mechanics prior to character creation in a game utilizing a simple ruleset. In fact, I'd rather have character creation as a separate booklet each player can purchase leaving the rest to the GM.


I really like the process for coming up with the villain however it would be a spoiler for the players so I won't spell it out here.

The game does remind me a lot of the TV Show Criminal Minds. It will be interesting to see how players cope with this style of game.

The example of play is well thought out and useful yet I'm not really certain how to run a game. It feels like I either have to bend my mind so it's a little twisted or use inspiration from real cases. Adding an option for players to be certain important NPCs might be neat.

Speaking of NPCs, that section is a real gem. It describes the process for running them well and clearly explains it's intentions. The mechanic for them is simple and full of potential. The writing here is concise and helpful to new GMs and experienced alike.

It's a question if those born after the 80s will easily acclimatise to the lack of technology they're comfortable with now. It's one thing to go to the 20s and another to go to what seems recent but is wildly different. Still, there's nothing I see that precludes this from being easily usable in any time-period.

At the back, the character sheet is nicely laid out and ultimately I quite like the fonts and white space. It is appropriately very 80s.



The lack of a sample adventure really hurts the game to me. A simple adventure does wonders for the game along with some example encounters with mechanics used. The lack of the adventure is a huge oversight and in my opinion will impact sales.

I would have also like to see the list of inspirational media repeated at the end with some literature added.

A very minor idea would have been to list equivalent units in various countries. US centric games can overcome some struggle by being more open to the rest of the world.


The art and layout as I've already stated are applied with genius skill. The writing is concise and easy to understand. Wonder of wonders, they included an Index at the back which is awesome!

Some of the advice on gamemastering, mood, running NPCs and more may be helpful for any GM in any game. As stated earlier, the NPC section is a true gem.

This is probably worth the read for anyone running games like Chill, Fear Itself, Call of Cthulhu, Heaven & Earth and similar games.


For my own play, I will have the players as RCMP with some aid from CSIS and CSEC. I could also see adding a longer story arc ala The Following television series but with the plot more in line with the RPG adding some of the odd but not supernatural elements from Heaven & Earth.

is filled with potential and will make a great game for convention play and one shot games to break up a regular groups campaign.